Social advocacy is becoming more integrated into marketing strategies. Companies are realizing the value of social advocacy programs, such as increased conversion rates and higher engagement levels. Content shared by employees receives eight times more engagement than content shared by brand channels. To have a successful advocacy program, you need your CEO and stakeholders to understand the value the program can bring, and you need all participants to be passionate about the brand and the content they are sharing.
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However, companies are discovering barriers within their company to having a truly successful advocacy program. Some B2B marketers struggle with getting their executives, sales team, HR, and other employees onboard with becoming social advocates. Here are some reasons why certain departments are not using social media and tips for encouraging these employees to participate.
CEO’s and Other Top Executives
Only 28% of CEOs use social media, with 22% using LinkedIn and 10% using Twitter. True, they are too busy running the company to think about social media and usually place it under marketing’s duties; however, they should consider that 77% of buyers are more likely to buy from a company whose CEO uses social media. CEOs and executives are seen as powerful thought leaders. When they share content about the company, outsiders will take notice and view that content as more legitimate than if shared by non-exec profiles. With their executive role in the company, they can be seen as social leaders and an excellent example to follow for other employees.
Present social media stats and insights to the executives and show them how 10 minutes a day on social media can improve engagement levels for the company. You must define your specific goals for your social media strategy and present the benefits of the program. Some executives might feel that social media is the domain of their kids using Snapchat, and they need examples of how it can work for the business. You may have to start by building their profile’s for them, enabling them to become comfortable with the platforms.
The Sales Team
A study by Jim Keenan’s “A Sales Guy” 21.7% of salespeople don’t want to make money! Well, at least they said that they are not are not using social media, with 19% citing they don’t see the value and 45% citing it’s because they don’t understand social selling. Salespeople underestimate what social media can do for them and may be used to traditional sales and marketing strategies. For example, they might not realize that many prospects are out on social media looking for helpful content and information prior to even talking to a company.
To bridge this gap, set up social media tutorials and presentations to make sure the sales team understands the importance of social media for sales and how to share content correctly to their target audiences. It can also help to work with smaller teams when implementing a social advocacy strategy, making sure each member really understands the importance and benefits of the program.
Typically, salespeople are competitive by nature, so showing them an advocacy leader board and the real benefits of social selling will spark their inner competitiveness. You need to show them how social selling can result in lead generation and conversions. The advantages of social selling speak for themselves, as 72.6% of salespeople using social selling as part of their sales process outperformed their sales peers and exceeded quota 23% more often.
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Human Resources and Recruiting
Social media is a great tool to attract potential candidates and also a great way to retain employees. Employees can share content they find interesting and showcase work perks and company events, such as holiday parties. Employees of socially engaged companies are 20% more likely to stay at their company!
To have a truly successful employee advocacy program, employees must have pride in their company. This begins with company’s values. Company’s should reward their employees for using social media and regularly show their appreciation. In fact, employees feel appreciated from a simple retweet or like from a CEO on a social media channel. Be sure to tell this to your CEO when you’re talking to them about starting their social media accounts.
Companies can also plan a fun, rewarding event, such as participating in a charity 5K race and perhaps even creating t-shirts with the Twitter handle on the back. Spreading the word about social competition doesn’t have to be all work.
All Other Employees
Some of the main barriers for employees on sharing company content include lack of guidelines and tutorials, too much information and not offering incentives. Brand messages reached 561% further when shared by employees versus the same messages shared via official brand social channels. Here are some suggestions to improve your social advocacy engagement levels company-wide:
- Create guidelines for employees to follow. This can include how to use social media, best practices, brand identity and any other important company information. Just by creating these guidelines and sharing them with the company, you can see an increase in advocates. Many people don’t know where to begin and this can help them start. Your guidelines should be clear that as a social advocate, they must represent the brand in a professional way.
- Segment your employees. By segmenting your employees you will provide them with information relevant to their roles and responsibilities. Rather than having the advocates sort through all the information your brand shares, create multiple boards to divide up the content by department, target audience or product. Segmentation isn’t just for advocacy, it’s also great for converting customers with 96% of B2B marketers saying segmentation is the most valuable method for improving conversion rates. It’s all about distributing the right content to the right people at the right time.
- Make the program fun. A little competition with incentives gives employees intrinsic reasons to start promoting your company on social media. By making the advocates feel important and part of a team, they are more likely to stay engaged in the program. Make t-shirts, have a lunch celebration or create a point-rewards system.
Social advocacy programs can help increase your brand awareness and engagement levels. Track the analytics to make sure your program is working and find out how to improve. Brand messages are re-shared 24 times more frequently when distributed by employees versus the brand.
Are you seeing any other barriers to your social advocacy program? Share in the comments below!
Cover image via @Andre Kiwitz